Chow report -- Hilton Head/Savannah
I arrived in Savannah at 7 AM, and got to my hotel on Hilton Head in the morning. The conference started at noon. Thus, I was stuck buying lunch at the hotel, in this case, the Westin. A fish taco at the beach bar. Not bad, but, as expected at a hotel on the beach, overpriced at $15.
A bunch of us went out that evening, we ended at at Hudson's on the Dock. Excellent peel and eat shrimp, and a great blackened mahi-mahi. Hush puppies also excellent.
Lunch the next day was courtesy of the conference, typical hotel rubber chicken fare. My dinner companions the evening before seemed to have disappeared in the afternoon, hmmm, maybe they had reserved time at the golf course. :) I decided to go to Roast Fish and Cornbread. A long wait, but it was nice out, so I had a beer outside, and it turned out that if I was willing to sit outside on the picnic table, I could eat sooner. That was great, as I had some company at dinner. In my case, a 30-something local guy who talked politics with me, and overturned all my preconceptions about southerners and their opinions. As for the food, I ordered peel and eat shrimp and flounder platter (under the mistaken impression that it was a whole flounder.) My waiter was a nice guy, but a bit of a slacker, and somehow my order got lost. In the end, the main dish came with the appetizer. The shrimp weren't quite as good as Hudson's (and RF&C doesn't but spices on the shrimp), but they were OK. The hush puppies and collard greens were excellent. The fish, however, was a grilled fillet and a bit overdone. Next time I'm ordering the whole roast fish. The ambiance of the outside seating was great, and the management comped me my second glass of wine because of the service mixup.
Our conference ended the next day at noon, so I headed out for Savannah. I ended in in downtown Bluffton and found the Bluffton BBQ. Excellent, one of the better BBQ's I've eaten at. I had the Pork with a Fork, the hell with insipid white bread, and an excellent sweet potato whatever and good collards, not to mention real southern sweet tea. Mmmmm. You should know, however, that the owners put their political
views on prominent display, and if you don't hold those views, you might find it a bit off-putting. As for me, the BBQ is so good, I'm willing to cut them a little slack. If I come to this conference next year, I'll stop in Bluffton on the way up and pick up some carry out BBQ for my first lunch.
Once in Savannah, I went to the City Market and did a tasting and the Meinhardt Winery. I had discovered muscadines and scuppernongs on a trip south last summer and wanted to see what kind of wine they made. The were a couple of whites that would be nice hot weather aperitifs or sitting on the porch wines, but the reds were nasty. Then per the suggestions I got here, I went to Papillote to get something for my train ride home. After some discussion with the staff, I settled on a crabmeat tartine, which they thought would keep at least until the next day's lunch. They packed it up for me, and I took it back to my hotel and put it in the fridge in my room.
For dinner, I followed the suggestion I got here and went to Garibaldis and sat at the bar. Definitely a good idea, whenever I travel by myself, if I can get served the full menu at the bar, that's where I'm going to eat. At the very least, you can talk to the bartender. Not only that, on this crowded Friday evening, I got served immediately without a reservation. I also got to chat with a couple who were doing the same thing as me, such social contact is a great improvement on the usual sort of solo dining I have to do when traveling for business. As for the foot, I followed the recommendation and had the risotto cake appetizer. Very tasty and rich. Alas, the portion could have been a bit smaller, alt least for the risotto. Also followed the recommendation and had the crispy flounder. Very well cooked, nice crispy skin, moist fish. The sauce was tasty at first, but after a while, I thought that there was maybe a little too much, and the sweetness became cloying. They also have a limited selection of wines by the glass. I had the tiramisu for dessert, and it was only OK.
And how was that tartine on the train? Not too bad, but I should have saved it for dinner, because when I went to the cafe car at about 5 in the evening, they were out of most of the entrees and sandwiches. I ended up with some nasty prefab "Buffalo style" chicken nuggets. The only reason I got them was because Amtrak used to serve real buffalo wings, prepackaged, yes, but they were real wings. These things, well, the less said the better. I also got a little cup of hummus, which wasn't bad. Amtrak really has to do something about their cafe car offerings, and also make sure that they don't run out of stuff at mealtimes hours before the end of the run.
So that was my trip. Thanks for the recommendations. Hope the chowhounds will find my report helpful.